(22) Pittsburgh 59

(5-0, 1-0 away)

Duquesne 45

(1-2, 1-2 home)

    9:30 PM ET, December 3, 2003

    A.J. Palumbo Center, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

    1 2 T
    #22PITT 22 3759
    DUQ 24 2145

    Krauser ignites Panthers run for win

    PITTSBURGH (AP) -- This is why Pittsburgh travels the one mile or so to Duquesne's home court only once every 15 years.

    Carl Krauser scored 17 points and keyed a decisive 20-5 run that started early in the second half, carrying the 22nd-ranked Panthers past their stubborn city rival 59-45 Wednesday night.

    Playing before Duquesne's first home sellout in nine years, the Panthers didn't begin pulling away until Krauser and Jaron Brown scored on consecutive steals and layups that made it 33-28 and started the run.

    "We just needed to settle down and play our game," said Julius Page, who had seven of his 13 points early in the second half. "We came out in the first half and didn't make any shots."

    Pittsburgh -- 5-0 for the fourth straight season -- loosened up its offense and tightened up its defense after shooting just 33 percent while trailing much of the first half. The Panthers turned to their transition game to take control, with Krauser and Page hitting 3-pointers on fast breaks and Chris Taft scoring twice inside.

    Until then, it looked like Duquesne might pull off the upset, just as it did 15 years ago when Pitt last played on the Dukes' court.

    "It's the big game of the year for them and I wasn't feeling too good about playing the game here," Pitt coach Jamie Dixon said. "It's a whole different atmosphere than it was four or five years ago," when the game was played at Mellon Arena, a neutral site.

    The decisive run turned a 28-all tie into a 48-33 Pitt lead with 8{ minutes left, and the Dukes (1-2) -- getting only three baskets during a nine-minute stretch -- never got any closer than nine points after that.

    "At the beginning of the second half, we weren't ready to play ... and they got it up to eight, nine, 10 points and that was the game," Duquesne coach Danny Nee said. "They turned up the pressure a little bit. We were very respectable for the first 20 minutes, but we couldn't compete in the last 20 minutes."

    Pitt shot 56.5 percent while outscoring Duquesne 37-21 in the second half after going 9-of-27 in the first half. Taft added eight points and nine rebounds as Pitt held a 37-31 rebounding edge.

    Duquesne had only one double-figure scorer, reserve guard Ryan Tricco, who had 10 points. The Dukes shot 35.2 percent, shooting less than 40 percent in each half. Elijah Palmer, averaging 20 points, had only nine -- just two in the second half.

    "They're a team that knows how to win basketball games," Palmer said. "They won like 29 games last season and they're good."

    Krauser, a sophomore point guard who replaced Brandin Knight in the backcourt after the Panthers won 57 games the previous two seasons, has been their leading scorer in all but one game.

    The crowd of 6,303 represented Duquesne's first pregame sellout since the A.J. Palumbo Center opened in 1988 -- the last time Pitt played there -- and many in the pro-Dukes crowd stood for most of the game. It was Duquesne's first home sellout since an NIT game against Villanova in March 1994 and the largest on-campus crowd in school history.

    "There was a lot of emotion, it was a great crowd and atmosphere, and it was good for our guys to play against that," said Dixon, whose team doesn't play another road game until Jan. 10. "It was good for our guys to have people yelling at them."

    Nee, the former Nebraska coach, certainly was into it, enthusiastically slapping hands before the game with a row of students who sat only a couple of feet behind the bench.

    But nobody in the mostly pro-Duquesne crowd hassled Pitt's bench, not with star receiver Larry Fitzgerald and quarterback Rod Rutherford sitting directly behind the Panthers.

    Pitt, which plays only two of its first 14 games away from its own arena about a mile up the street, looked tight and tentative early and fell behind 14-11 and 20-17. But the Panthers never trailed after Krauser's basket with 15:52 remaining.

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


    2003-04 Season

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